Friday, May 15, 2009

MOBY DICKS: Offshore oil is also animal cruelty

You better pray God ain’t a whale. Otherwise humans are in for a helluva payback. In fact, all you need to do is see the Danish club pilot whales, and you realize we’ve got a long way to go toward becoming humane. And since I’ve blogged most recently (all though not that recently) about the economic folly of pursuing offshore oil and gas, I figured maybe it as time to point out the ethical folly, as in: how fast humans become animal-abusing dicks just to serve our own shallow needs.

In the case of offshore oil and gas exploration, we’ll literally torture our biggest, bestest ocean mammal buddies in search just a few months supply, as the ‘seismic guns’ used to find pockets of petroleum literally bursts whales eardrums, causing death and disorientation and other problems way beyond learning to sign with simple pair of fins. In fact, here’s just a few gnarly courtesy of Greenpeace :

* Seismic explosions typically reach 260 decibels but scientists believe marine mammals are injured by volumes higher than 180 decibels.

* In the last year, whale deaths believed to be related to noise pollution have occurred off of Baja California, the Canary Islands, and the San Juan Islands.

*Physical impacts of seismic survey noise on marine mammals are believed to include auditory masking or confusion, temporary hearing loss, brain hemorrhage and even death.

In other words, this is way worse than cutting a cat’s whiskers or giving a dog peanut butter (not that I know much about either). Even more troubling, it’s only been about 70 years since whales stopped being tortured in way worse ways by American industry. Not torture like sleep deprivation or cramped boxes or even ‘waterboarding’ . But as in harpooning, jabbing, and ultimately beheading and skinning. (Take that, Talban.) And then there’s the death itself, as described in the following passage from Moby Dick:

“The red tide now poured form all sides of the monster like brooks down a hill. His tormented body rolled not in brine, but in blood, which bubbled and seethed for furlongs behind their wake. . .And all the while, jet after jet of white smoke agonizingly shot from the spiracle of the whale,...Stubb slowly churned his long sharp lance into the fish and kept it there.. And now, the whale once more rolled out into view . . .spasmodically dilating and contracting his spouthole, with sharp agonized respirations. At last, gush after gush of clotted red gore…shot into the frighted air and falling back again, ran dripping down his motionless flanks into the sea. His heart had burst!”

So what were these 19th century Nantuckers after? Meat. Nope. Sperm? Somewhat. But mostly, they too wanted oil. Not to burn in cars, but in lamps, killing thousands upon thousands to meet the world’s energy needs. Better hope when we hit the pearly gates we don’t see Shamu instead of St. Peter, or else it’ll be our turn to burn. (Better have a bucket of fish handy just in case.)

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